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tv   The War Room With Jennifer Granholm  Current  September 20, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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granholm. according to the latest gallup poll, just 13% of americans approve of the job that congress is doing. that is the lowest congressional rating gallup has ever measured this late in an election year. so why is congress so unpopular? well maybe it is because they can't seem to get anything done.
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if congress adjourns as they're scheduled to do this week, it is going to be the earliest election year departure since 1960. there is a really big difference between 1960 and today. the 80th congress got stuff done but today's lawmakers of course, are going to leave behind lots of unfinished business. topping that list, of course is passing a budget. just as important is striking a deal on taxes. house and senate have passed these competing bills on what to do when the bush era tax cuts expire at the end of the year. don't forget, yesterday they fail to pass a veterans jobs bill which as american as apple pie. they're blocking it in the senate. what is to blame for all of this inaction? our next guest chalks it up to the dysfunction of both political parties. now, tonight wear excited -- we're excited to welcome into "the war room," former republican congressman mickey edwards who's written the new
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book "the parties versus the people." mickey is joining us from washington. thank you so much for being inside "the war room." >> thank you governor. glad to be with you. >> jennifer: you bet. glad to have you. so you said that the political parties are the cancer at the heart of democracy. what do you mean by that? >> well, look, first of all the first for you presidents of the united states, george washington, adams, jefferson madison all agreed on one thing. don't create political parties. don't especially create the kind of permanent factions that we have today. where democrats are always on one side and republicans are always on the other side. and they just simply are unable to come together. even on the most urgent issues to find a way to compromise and get something done. >> jennifer: well, we've got a great example of polarization from the senate floor today. let's take a listen. >> the number one job of this congress domestically should have been more private sector
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jobs. the president's long-held view of redistribution as a goal for the government is not going to accomplish that. >> the president's put our entire economy in jeopardy in order to serve his own political interests. >> jennifer: it's just -- it is classic example of what goes on every single day on the floor. you think that goes against the principle of the founding fathers as you mentioned and separation of powers? >> the issue is not polarization. we've had polarization all through our history. the issue is partisanship. it's loyalty to your team. what you see in washington today and what you see in a lot of state legislatures, even city governments is that on one side are people saying what do i do that helps my team win the next election. how can i redraw congressional districts. how can i work the primary system so that my team wins and the other side is doing exactly the same thing. the subtitle in my book, thank you for mentioning the book, "the parties versus the people"
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but the subtitle is how to turn republicans and democrats into americans. by that i mean so when they're making decisions about important issues, their first thought is what do we need to do to move the country forward not how can i help my private club, the republican -- >> jennifer: how do you do it? >> we start with the congressional primary system that the states have. where you can be a very small subset of the population. and get the nomination for whatever reason and then the other people in your party are not allowed to be on the ballot. that happened in delaware. million people in delaware, christine o'donnell beat mike castle. he could not be on the ballot in november because every state except four have sore loser laws. >> jennifer: so in california, for example -- they take the top two vote-getters. one way to get away from this?
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>> absolutely. washington state did that in 2006. california in 2010. you know, jennifer, the people are afraid of the party system. they're fleeing from the party system more than 40% now call themselves independents. they don't want anything to do with this private warfare between the clubs. >> jennifer: you served in the house what, from '77 until '93. i think you were considered at the time a solid republican. do you think that there is a chance that you would get elected today as a republican? >> i don't think i would get elected as a republican in a primary. i don't think ronald reagan would. >> jennifer: because you're a reasonable guy. because you happen to be a reasonable guy, right? >> but you know, it is a problem on the republican side. it is one on the democratic side too. what happens is if you get a small turnout in your primary you know, what happens is you
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get defeated by this tiny unrepresented group christine o'donnell got 30,000 votes in the state of delaware and that ended the chances of anybody else running so you've gotta change the party primary system. you've gotta get rid of the sore loser laws that keep people off the ballot. have the top two primaries open primary every qualified candidates on the ballot. every single qualified voter votes in that race. that's what you need to do -- take away from parties the right to control redistricting. in congress, take away from the party leadership, the right to decide whether or not you sit on a committee. you just gotta change the system. every incentive is to not cooperate. >> jennifer: you have written a great book about it, congressman. i really appreciate you sharing it with us. ironically up next if there were a queen of partisanship and craziness or queen of crazy town, then her name might just be madam bachmann. we're going to meet the guy who's taking on the
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congresswoman. and then later what does it take to get the actors on "the west wing" together for a reunion tour? you will be surprised. >> if people fail to realize that a straight ticket vote doesn't count in nonpartisan races, if they just casually vote the party line, then their interest will continue to go unrepresented.
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>> within a day or so, the president of the united states will be taking a trip over to india that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. >> it appears that there are individuals who are associated with the muslim brotherhood who have positions in very sensitive -- very sensitive positions in our department of justice, our department of homeland security, potentially even in the national intelligence agency. >> carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. but there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.
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[ whistle ] >> jennifer: i don't know about you but every time minnesota congresswoman tea party darling michele bachmann opens up her mouth i either kring or laugh -- cringe or laugh out loud. how can somebody who is so out of touch with mainstream america, somebody who's so ignorant who's so dangerous be a member of the u.s. house of representatives? many people were hoping that after her disastrous presidential run that ms. bachmann would fade quietly into the background. well i'm sorry to tell you she has no intention of going anywhere. she is running for re-election. this despite the fact she barely held on to her seat in 2010. she actually spent almost $12 million that year. more than any other congressional candidate in the country and she won with just 52% of the vote. tonight we want to introduce you to the brave soul who is running against michele bachmann! >> we start at american motels
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with $2,000 in savings. >> times were tight with two young kids. >> we worked hard. >> we were blessed. >> it is time we help the middle class succeed, too. that's why i'm running for congress. >> he's the man who hopes to end michele bachmann's reign of craziness. jim graves. welcome inside "the war room." >> thank you governor. glad to be here with you tonight. >> jennifer: we're glad that you -- you've joined us. when you told your family and your friends that you were going to run against michele bachmann, did they look at you like you were crazy or did they give you a standing ovation? >> you know, kind of both of the above. they kind of thought i was pretty out there to run against her but then they also said great. they gave me a big applause. somebody's gotta do it. she epitomizes everything, governor, that's wrong with congress. she literally is the epitome of what's gone wrong. >> jennifer: give us your campaign elevator pitch. why -- how are you going to beat michele bachmann and why should
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voters choose you over her? >> okay. well, that's a good question. >> jennifer: quick. >> they need to vote for the truth. they're going to vote for somebody who's actually done it. they're going to vote for somebody who knows how to get things done on the ground. knows how to bring people together, not divide people. knows how to message to the folks, not message to you why her fund-raising people. somebody that actually understands what is needed on the ground in the sixth district. the people are ready for a change. they're sick and tired of bending truth and making the crazy statements. so they're ready for somebody like me that actually came from the district. understands the district. understands the people. >> jennifer: jim do people in the district see her as being a bit loopy? >> yeah. people have said she's gone a little bit too far. these latest comments about the muslim brotherhood, attacking the president while we're -- in a time of risk when we have people over in egypt and libya you know, their lives are at stake and she's making a political statement about it, people are ready for somebody
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that isn't just looking for the rock star. somebody who isn't trying to create headlines but actually creating jocks and solutions for the -- creating jobs and solutions for the district. >> jennifer: what are your polls telling you, do you actually have a chance? >> oh, yeah, definitely. polls tell us if the people get to know me, we win this election. right now, we're neck and neck. we're virtually in a tie. our i.d., our identification of who i am, what i stand for is going up every day. every day goes up, we pick up all of the persuadables, all of the independents that are looking for something different looking for a real solution. >> jennifer: that's encouraging. moderate republicans should be yours for the taking. i want to play a clip from your latest campaign ad. >> after the fire at the mill, michele bachmann never called the workers. >> didn't reach out. >> we heard from everyone else. >> she's too worried about her own career. >> to worry about anybody else. >> jennifer: now, her team is saying that the -- that ad is a
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character sneer. how do you respond to that? >> well, it is not a sneer at all. it is a fact. it is one of the tenants of why i'm running for congress. the people want somebody to represent them. she never showed up. these people losing their jobs, they lost one of their coworkers. she never came to the plant. she never talked to the people. they want somebody on the ground, not out there trying to pitch their own personal agenda. not making pledges to grover norquist but pledges to the people themselves that work there and she's just not there. so that ad is totally factual. those are the people telling us that they want somebody to represent them. >> jennifer: now we talked about -- at the beginning of this segment, that she's got some really deep pockets. she's obviously spent a lot of money in the last race. how do you compete against all of that money? >> well, first and foremost, governor it is a message that counts in the votes that count not how much money you have in the bank. she's got a lot of money but we're going to have enough to get our message out and that's all we need to do. that's what's wrong with politics right now. it's gotten to be all about the
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money. who raises the most money. i'm about who gets the most votes and who can represent the people. we gotta change congress. we know that. we need people that are centrists, willing to compromise, that believe in themselves enough to talk to the other side and i'm all about that. i've done that my whole life in business and i'll do it in congress. >> jennifer: you are one of a number of races that the democratic national party and the house campaign committee has targeted or is at least looking at to be able to displace the tea party members. do you feel like you're getting adequate support from the democratic national party? >> yeah, we're getting support. we like more support always but at the end of the day we're a centrist kind of candidate. we believe that we're going to be bipartisan and we're getting help from everybody. the independent party in minnesota is very strong and a lot of their leaders not the party itself but the leaders are supporting me. and a lot of our moderate republicans that understand business understand we have
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real solutions to the real problems. they're coming across and they're supporting me. so we're going to have enough juice i guess to get the message out. that's the important thing. get the message out. >> jennifer: jim i think i speak for a whole lot of people that wish you good luck! we'll all be following this race as we go forward. thanks for joining me inside "the war room." >> governor, thank you so much. >> jennifer: you bet. of course. political junkies long for the days of new episodes of the west wing. i loved that show. but now the actors of that political show are actually banding together for a cause! it's got to do with boating and state supreme courts across the country. it is a story will you only find in "the war room." it is next on current tv. >> it is a cataclysmic event unrivaled by the likes of any calamity since the dawn of history. >> boo-boo. >> ballpark reaching your point in the foreseeable future.
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> jennifer: you're back inside "the war room." i'm jennifer granholm. great news political junkies the cast of the west wing has reunited. they're doing something i have never seen in all my years in politics. they're actually appearing together in a new campaign video to tackle a major but little discussed crisis in our electoral process the lack of voting in nonpartisan judicial races. take a look. >> explain this to me like i'm a 2-year-old. >> they check the straight party ticket box. they have voted for everything. but they haven't. they still have to vote on the nonpartisan section of the ballot. >> that's the part toward the back. >> michigan is one of 15 states that uses nonpartisan elections to choose their supreme court justices. this is bridget mary
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mccormack. mary mccormack's sister running for state supreme court in a nonpartisan section of the ballot. >> who's mary mccornel ac. >> something tells me she's delightful and smart. possibly hot. hard to say really. come on. we're walking and talking. >> jennifer: i just can't believe this. the cast that you just saw also works in this endorsement for bridget mccormack who is the sister of actress mary mccormack who played kate harper for three seasons on the west wing. bridget is a university of michigan law professor. she's running for a spot on the michigan supreme court and because it is a nonpartisan position, a lot of voters might skip over that race. this is very bad. state courts overall decide 95% of this country's legal cases. so coming to us tonight from grand rapids and the great state of michigan is supreme court candidate bridget mccormack. bridge et, so great to have you
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inside "the war room." >> it's great to be here, governor. thank you for having me. >> jennifer: you bet. so how were you and your sister able to convince the entire cast of the west wing to make this commercial? >> well, it's not quite the entire cast. hill is missing. but as it turns out it didn't take -- it didn't take a lot of work convincing. i think the cast remains close. they're good friends and my sister asked and they all said sure. sounds like a good cause. >> jennifer: you didn't have to pay for that? >> no. you know what? no not at all. everybody devoted their time. all of the cast and all of the crew. we had to buy insurance. we bought some food for them while they were working. it cost us less than $5,000. >> jennifer: that's such a great thing. this psa runs for -- i want to say four minutes. are there plans to run a shorter version so that it can be aired on tv? >> no. it won't be on tv. it will live on the internet and
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hopefully enough people will see it by distribution as you may know, there is a generic version that doesn't reference me or my campaign at all. anyone interested in increasing voter participation can send around and hopefully we get people focused on voting the nonpartisan section of the ballot. >> jennifer: so reinforce for our audience why is it so crucial that people vote in the nonpartisan judicial races? >> yeah, thanks for the question. you know, as you said in your intro, the state supreme court decides the majority of cases in our country. they make really important decisions every year on cases that affect all of our families. they affect our -- the way we can -- our right and they affect our businesses. and all of the issues they decide matter to everybody yet the number of people who actually vote in our state supreme court elections is extremely low. in michigan, just for example
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because it is nonpartisan on the ballot, the drop-off rate from folks who vote the top part of the ticket to the bottom is somewhere between 25% and 38% depending on the cycle. that's a lot of people not having a say in who sits on our state supreme court. >> jennifer: so much of it probably is because they have no idea who the names are that they're missing. a lot of that is because a lot of people don't like the idea of judges having to run for office. what's your position on running for office as a potential justice? >> yeah, great question. with respect to your first point, not only do they not know who to vote for i also think in some cases people think they voted. if you voted a straight party ticket no matter which party you voted for, you might think you voted for supreme court candidates but you have not. that's what we're really hoping to teach people. with respect to judges running for election, it is a complicated question. it is a question about which there has been a lot of interest. especially lately.
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and i personally trust the voters and like when the voters have a say as long as we live in a system where voters get accurate information and that isn't always the case given campaign finance laws. >> jennifer: i have come around on this and believe that it is really not a good idea myself. in fact, so far judicial candidates have spent a record $4.6 million on tv ads this election season, four times the amount they spent two years ago. obviously they're getting the money for buying those ads from somewhere. don't you think there is a potential for conflict of interest to put it lightly among those that they might be seeking contributions from if they end up appearing before them in the court. >> yeah, i think obviously there is -- there is a real problem with money in politics and general but particularly in the judiciary where in my view, it is welcome least of all for the reason you say. and not only for the reason you
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say. yes, it is one problem if, in fact, there is a conflict of interest. it is another problem if there is decreased public confidence in the outcomes our produces. in the decisions our courts make. because even if there is not a conflict everyone assumes there is. nobody knows exactly who's funding these elections and so then they assume that every decision the court makes is a political one and a partisan one and that is unfortunate because it really decreases public confidence. >> jennifer: in michigan we have long known that michigan chamber of commerce, et cetera has supported and bought and paid for many of the people who are on the supreme court at least that's the allegation. very disconcerting in terms of trust of the judiciary. bridget mccormack, thank you so much for joining us inside "the war room" with that totally entertaining campaign video. i really appreciate it. and brett ehrlich is turning his attention to swing state politics and he immediately regrets it. >> coming up, marco rubio tries
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to touch old people. metaphorically. don't go away.
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you disgust me. prove it. enough is enough. d-con baits are specially formulated to kill in one feeding.
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guaranteed. d-con. get out. >> jennifer: as the old adage goes, if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything. brett ehrlich hates that rule. shh. brett's talking now. >> so much mitt romney. so little time. what are we going to do besides take a joke dump? >> joke dump. the romney campaign has new strategy. more mitt. it's a 180 from the old strategy. hide him quick. more mitt is the republican strategy until now it was the republican's worst fear. right up there with that guy at the intersection that tries to wash your windows. honey, lock your doors but don't make it look like you're trying to lock your doors. on monday, we heard mitt right write off the 47% and then yesterday, he said he was the president of the 100%. marking the first time in weeks
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his numbers have actually gone up. to win over seniors marco rubio stars in a new medicare ad. it's called least we can do. least we can do. is that the best you could do? how does it make you feel that your approach to medicare was my approach to the last three months of high school. mitt romney's new more mitt strategy was at work today at florida's ringling museum founded by the same guy who founded the ringling bros. circus. mitt always felt at home at the circus. it is a safe place for people like him have a knack for contorting themselves into awkward positions. that was a joke dump. don't worry, my jokes are 100% biodegradable. i'm done talking now. >> jennifer: okay. political junkies, thank you for joining us here in "the war room." tune in tomorrow night. my guests will be former labor secretary robert reich political
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